Based in Wales, Kacie writes a food and travel blog called The Rare Welsh Bit featuring recipes, restaurants, travel destinations, accommodation and more, from Cardiff to as far afield as the Caribbean. The Rare Welsh Bit has been featured by the likes of BBC One, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, Food 52, Mail on Sunday, Metro, Blogosphere Magazine, Sainsbury’s Magazine and Co-Op Food Mag. In 2018, Kacie received the Blogger of the Year award from Grenada Tourism Authority in recognition of her coverage of Grenada Chocolate Festival. In the same year, The Rare Welsh Bit was also shortlisted as one of the top 10 UK food and travel blogs in the Post Office Travel Blogger Awards. With a background in journalism and over 11 years’ experience in writing and editing, Kacie is a member of the UK Guild of Food Writers and has previously written for Visit Wales, Sainsbury’s Magazine, Co-Op Food Mag and Around Town Wales Magazines.
What inspired you to start a food blog?
I started The Rare Welsh Bit after graduating from Cardiff University in 2010 with a degree in journalism. I wanted to secure a career in writing but I wasn’t ready to leave Wales just yet and most of the journalism jobs I saw advertised online were centred around London, Bath or Brighton. I began blogging about Welsh food in the hope of getting my writing noticed locally and progressing my career. For a little while, all I wrote about was traditional Welsh food, before exploring the local food scene in more detail.
In 2014, I took a career break and spent a few months in Negril, Jamaica. This inspired me to start writing about my travel experiences and shortly afterwards, I published my first travel post on The Rare Welsh Bit – a review of a restaurant I’d visited while in Negril, Jamaica.
What are your favourite ingredients to cook with (and why)?
I tend to get bored with eating the same foods again and again, so I’m always on the look-out for exciting new ingredients to cook with and my favourite ingredients are constantly changing.
Since spending time in Jamaica and Grenada, I’ve developed a real passion for cooking with goat meat. In fact, I’d say goat is fast-becoming my favourite meat and it seems I’m not the only one, as I’m seeing lots more goat recipes popping up on my social media feeds recently and it feels like the concept of eating goat is becoming more acceptable within wider UK society.
My favourite goat dish is Caribbean goat curry, although I’m really keen to discover how Indian goat curry compares. However, you’d be surprised at just how versatile goat meat can be. At the moment, I’m eagerly awaiting the return of summer so I can fire up the BBQ and experiment with some jerk goat.
What social media platforms do you use most/find most successful?
I’m most active on Instagram and this is where most of my followers are. I genuinely enjoy using the platform; I love crafting my posts and seeing others’ content and it’s useful for interacting with friends, especially during the lockdown. There’s no doubt that Instagram can be a powerful tool for raising brand awareness, building a following, connecting and engaging with your audience and attracting potential clients.
However, I don’t find Instagram useful in terms of referring traffic to my blog and in this aspect, I often wonder if I should be devoting more of my time to the social media networks that are actually driving visitors to my website.
Speaking of which, Facebook and Pinterest are always my top two social media channels when it comes to referring traffic to my blog. I enjoy using both of these platforms myself on a personal level and while I’ve got a pretty good understanding of how Facebook works, I would like to improve upon my knowledge of Pinterest and spend more time creating new pins.
I’m also active on Twitter, although this is my least preferred social network as I find it can be quite an intimidating space to be in at times.
Can you share the three most popular posts on your blog?
I have a range of food and travel content on my blog, but at the moment my recipes are my most-read form of content. As my blog is called The Rare Welsh Bit, it’s no surprise that my Welsh rarebit recipe is pretty popular, especially around St. David’s Day.
Can you share any tips for newer bloggers who would love to set up a food/recipe blog?
Be aware of what you’re committing to
Running a blog can be hard work. From checking emails, responding to client enquiries and managing your accounts (or paying an accountant to do it for you) to planning content, capturing and editing perfect photos, writing engaging blog posts and sharing them on social media, there’s often always something to do in blogging. What’s more, while it’s entirely possible to write a hobby blog for free using platforms like Blogger, you may encounter costs (e.g. hosting fees, domain costs) if you’re looking to monetise your blog.
You shouldn’t let this put you off if you’re truly passionate about exploring the world of blogging, but I don’t think new bloggers always realise just how much they could be taking on. I ran my blog alongside full-time work for eight years and it was hard work; although it can be done, it will absorb a lot of your time.
Consider your true passions
Before starting a blog, spend some time thinking about what really inspires you and interests you. After all, you’re going to be spending a lot of time focusing on it if you want to be successful, so it’s important to choose a topic that really ignites your passions and genuinely excites you.
Not only will this help to ensure that you don’t burn out before your blog’s even taken off, but your passion will be evident in your content and your readers will be able to pick up on it, making your blog all the more credible and authentic.
Find your niche
This has always been important but as blogging is so competitive nowadays, it’s absolutely essential if you’re really keen to build a name for yourself. Once you’ve decided what it is you’re passionate about, think about how you can hone that down and focus on a specific aspect of your passion. So, for example, if I was to start a brand new blog today, I might decide to start a blog about gardening. After all, I’m sure I’m not the only one who developed a new-found love for it during the lockdown!
However, as I’m still very much a novice gardener and I don’t have any real knowledge or expertise on gardening at this stage, I’d probably write a beginner’s gardening blog, targeted at other beginner gardeners. As I mainly grow vegetables as I love growing things I can eat, I could also choose to focus on growing edible crops. This is just one example of how you might decide to refine your blog niche, but I’m sure there will be plenty of possibilities depending on what subject you intend to focus on.
If you could go back in time to when you first set up your blog would you do anything differently?
Before I began writing about travel, I toyed with the idea of changing the name of my blog as I was concerned that it wouldn’t resonate with people outside Wales and/or the UK who aren’t aware of what Welsh rarebit is and mightn’t understand the meaning or the play on words.
With hindsight, however, I’m glad I haven’t changed it. I’ve had a lot of compliments on it and I’m surprised at just how many people have heard of Welsh rarebit, but it’s always an interesting topic of conversation either way.
If I could do anything differently, I would’ve been more organised in terms of the different categories and tags that I use on my blog and my blog posts. I’ve really let this slip over the years and I desperately need to spend some time categorising my posts and sorting out my tags. It’s one of those tasks I’m forever putting off.
Oh, and I wish I learnt more about SEO from the start too; I only started doing keyword research effectively a few years ago and it’s been a real game-changer for me.
Which blogs do you love to read for inspiration?
I love reading Lavender and Lovage, written by Karen Burns-Booth. I have always admired Karen’s beautiful photography and I love her traditional British recipes and how she tells the story behind them.
Another blog I find myself turning to again and again is that of Chilli and Mint, written by Torie True. Having spent many years travelling throughout India and south east Asia, Torie now runs her own Indian cookery classes and writes a blog packed with recipes from her travels. I’m particularly fond of her Vietnamese recipes; I recently made her bánh xèo (Vietnamese pancakes) and they were absolutely incredible.
When it comes to travelling (albeit still with food in mind) I’m constantly in awe of Kavey Eat’s food and travel escapades. Whether she’s stuck at home scoffing an exotic fruit I’ve never even heard of, or “travelling by belly” (Kavey’s own words, but a concept I love and can really relate to) across the other side of the world (pre-lockdown), I always seem to learn something new from reading her blog and following her on Instagram.
What are your blogging plans for the next 12 months?
Over the next 12 months, I’m hoping to reorganise the structure of my blog and I’m considering investing in a custom-built website too. I’ve been using various paid blog themes for a few years now and I feel like it might be time to up my game. I recently celebrated my ten year blog birthday and a new look and feel for the blog could make for a lovely way to mark this milestone.
I’ll also be spending more time optimising old posts in an attempt to get them ranking a little higher on Google.
What would be your perfect meal?
As much as I love to travel and explore exciting new cuisines, there’s nothing I love to eat more than a traditional roast dinner with Welsh Lamb and all the trimmings.